5 Takeaways: Anti-Tank Flyers Keep on Winning, Edge Montreal
Fans have been sending mail to Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella, suggesting they should lose games and get a better chance to draft generational center Connor Bedard.
No tank you, Tortorella tells them.
Last week, Tortorella seemed incredulous with the fans’ pleas.
“It’s asinine,” he said. “Athletes don’t tank. Coaches are not going to tank. They’d have mental problems living with themselves if they ever went about their business that way.”
Instead of tanking and gaining in the draft-lottery race, the Flyers are banking points at their highest rate of the season.
They outlasted visiting Montreal on Tuesday, 3-2, as Morgan Frost scored a pair of goals and Felix Sandstrom ended a nine-game winless streak.
“He’s getting more and more consistent,” Tortorella said about Frost. “The goals are the goals. That’s great. We’re looking for that. But I think he’s improved right on through, away from the puck, which is a very important part of his game.”
The Flyers equaled a season-high with their fourth straight win, and they are on a 5-0-1 run.
Call them the anti-tankers.
Here are five quick observations:
1. Late goals lift Flyers to another win.
On a two-on-one, Frost scored his 16th goal from the slot to snap a 1-1 tie with 2:15 left in regulation. Owen Tippett then added an empty-net goal.
The Canadiens scored with 22.4 seconds remaining, so Tippett’s empty-netter was huge.
Frost was the Flyers’ best player. By far. He had eight shot attempts (five on goal), used his stickhandling creativity to find open areas, and won 56% of his faceoffs.
“He’s worked hard all year, and I’ve seen many of those goals before, playing against him and with him,” Tippett said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence.”
The loss officially eliminated the Habs from, uh, playoff contention.
In the draft-lottery race, the Flyers now have four more points than the Canadiens, and Philly has two games in hand. Montreal has the NHL’s fifth-worst record.
🔥❄️ @_morganfrost_10 on fire. ❄️🔥#MTLvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/eDZyBNoFAl
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 29, 2023
2. Felix Sandstrom, a late replacement for the injured Carter Hart, stood tall.
The backup goalie stopped the first 18 shots before Brendan Gallagher picked up a loose puck after a faceoff and scored from in close. That knotted the game at 1-1 with 10:21 remaining in the second.
Justin Braun and Scott Laughton got tangled up and couldn’t clear the puck before Gallagher scored his seventh goal of the season.
Sandstrom stopped 27 of 29 shots, including a right-circle blast from Rafael Harvey-Pinard early in the third to keep the game tied at 1-all.
It was his second NHL win.
“It’s been a battle, so it feels great personally to finally get a win again,” said Sandstrom, who is 2-10-2 on the season. “The guys have been doing a great job and they played a real solid game. It’s fun to be out there.”
Beautiful set up from @KevinPHayes12 to @_morganfrost_10. #MTLvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/CC3Yq2E3mN
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 29, 2023
3. With help from Kevin Hayes, Morgan Frost did lots on the game’s first goal.
Frost, a 23-year-old center, drew a tripping penalty on Denis Gurianov, then scored just as the infraction expired to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 16:19 left in the second.
It went down as an even-strength goal. In essence, it was a five-on-three because Gurianov had yet to join the play and Harvey-Pinard could barely move after blocking a shot.
Frost took a slick feed form Kevin Hayes and scored from the side of the net.
“He’s got unbelievable vision,” Frost said. ” … I just had to get it off as quick as I could, and all the credit goes to him on that one.”
Hayes hasn’t scored a goal in 19 straight games, but he continues to set up his teammates. He has a team-leading 35 assists.
4. It was a highly successful seven-game homestand.
The Philadelphia Flyers went 5-1-1 on their longest homestand of the season, highlighted by wins over Buffalo, Florida and Minnesota. They had a 4-3 lead over powerful Carolina before the Hurricanes scored with three-tenths of a second left in regulation. The Flyers lost in overtime, 5-4.
Philly scored three or more goals in all seven games.
5. South Jersey’s Cayden Primeau played well in his first NHL start in a little over 13 months.
Recalled from the AHL, Primeau will get a late-season look.
So far, so good.
Primeau, a 23-year-old goaltender who is the pride of Bishop Eustace Prep, stopped Hayes on a first-period breakaway and made several other difficult saves in a scoreless first period.
He also stopped Wade Allison on a breakaway with 11:05 to go in the second.
All told, he stopped 24 of 26 shots.
The Flyers did not commit a penalty for the third time this season. … Before the game, the Flyers announced that Hart, the scheduled starter, had a lower-body injury and was day to day. Sam Ersson was recalled from the Phantoms and served as Sandstrom’s backup. … The Flyers went with seven defensemen. … Allison (six) and Nick Deslauriers (five) were the Flyers’ hit leaders. … Frost and Ivan Provorov were each plus-2. … On Thursday the Flyers face former captain Claude Giroux in Ottawa (36-33-5). Giroux, 35, has 71 points (28 goals, 43 assists) and a plus-3 rating in 74 games.